Customer knowledge management is the difference between simply knowing a lot about your customers, and actually doing something with what you know about them.
And it’s your ability to build a knowledge management system that will allow you to use your customer data productively, and in turn, lead to growth for your business.
In this article, we’ll discuss:
- What customer knowledge management is
- How strategic customer knowledge management impacts business growth
- The processes involved in creating a customer knowledge management system that fuels business growth
Let’s get started.
What is Customer Knowledge Management?
To understand what customer knowledge management is, let’s take a step back and define knowledge management as a whole.
Knowledge management is the continuous process of documenting, storing, communicating, and applying all of your company's knowledge in an effort to improve upon your organization’s various processes.
Customer knowledge management, then, is all about collecting, documenting, and using the information you have on your customers to provide a more valuable experience to them.
Again, this information goes beyond the mere “on-paper” data you have on your customers.
Yes, customer knowledge management starts with your customers’ demographic, psychographic, and behavioral data. But it also involves interpreting this data in order to create knowledge assets that give more meaning to the surface-level information you collect from your customers.
Think, for example, of your customer personas.
While each part of the profile is created using customer data you’ve collected, the entire profile is the knowledge asset that can be used by your team for a variety of purposes. Without this cohesive document, it’d be quite difficult to put your customer data to good use.
The same can be said for all of the customer data you collect:
Customer knowledge management ensures your team is able to use any information you have on your customers to serve them better — and to ensure your business continues to grow.
How Does Customer Knowledge Management Impact Business Growth?
With the above in mind, the main benefit of strategic customer knowledge management is clear:
The more you know about your customers, the more value you can deliver to them. The more value you deliver, the easier it will be to grow your business.
Customer knowledge management will allow you to:
- Make improvements to your products and services
- Develop immersive omnichannel customer experiences
- Deliver more — and more valuable — content
- Provide streamlined and automated customer support
- Develop your brand’s unique purpose and value
Overall, strategic customer knowledge management leads to more productive customer-facing efforts throughout your organization.
While you’ll still need to test and tweak your efforts moving forward, these efforts will be much more informed from the start. As mentioned above, your educated interpretation of your customer data will certainly be more effective than a haphazard trial-and-error approach.
On the other hand, jumping to conclusions about what your customer data means can potentially lead your team down the wrong path — and will require a fair amount of backtracking on your part.
More than simply enabling your team to provide more value to your customers, strategic customer knowledge management will be more effective and efficient in your efforts. In turn, you’ll be spending fewer resources to achieve better results for your business.
Key Steps to Building a Knowledge Management System
To get the most value out of your customer knowledge management efforts, you need to be strategic in how you build your knowledge management system.
Let’s take a look at how to do just that.
Identify Customer Knowledge and Business Goals to Focus On
Your top priority should be to identify your business goals — and how improving your customer knowledge management efforts will enable you to achieve them.
Maybe you’re looking to attract more valuable leads. Or, you might be aiming to retain high-value clients for longer periods of time. Perhaps you need to iron out your customer service efforts.
From there, you can focus on specific customer data, such as:
- Demographic data, from age and geographic location to education level, occupation, income, and more
- Psychographic data, such as your customers’ attitudes, interests, and opinions on certain topics
- Behavioral data detailing what makes your target audience take action as consumers
- Brand perception data, providing insight into how your customers view your company when compared to others in your industry
Again, all of the data you collect on your customers is valuable in some way or another.
But, when looking to develop your customer knowledge in a specific area, it’s important to stay focused on the data that provides the most relevant and valuable insight.
Identify the Best Way(s) to Collect Customer Data
Knowing where and how to find your customer data is critical.
In some cases, the information is already “out there”, and you just need to collect it. Your audience’s social media pages, your competitors’ channels, and third-party industry reports are chock-full of valuable information that will help you better understand your customers.
The best way to learn more about your customers, though, is to engage with them directly.
Some effective examples:
- Sending surveys to those who have recently engaged with your brand
- Requesting product reviews from current customers
- Inviting long-time customers to participate in user testing sessions or focus groups
You may also want to dive into the information you’ve collected while actually engaging with your customers.
Here, you’ll be looking at:
- On-site behaviors and social media engagements
- Knowledge base search queries and browsing patterns
- Chatbot and live agent conversations
Investing in technology — from database warehouses, to CRMs, to chatbots — to help facilitate and store these data collection efforts is crucial, here.
It’s just as crucial, though, to ensure these tools integrate with one another. This will help streamline the process of organizing your customer data — and enable your team to get a head start on the next step of customer knowledge management.
Interpret the Customer Data You’ve Collected
Here’s where you’ll begin to turn your customer data into organizational knowledge.
The most important thing here:
Make it a team effort.
All of your customer-facing teams should have a hand in creating your customer knowledge assets. Your marketing, sales, and service & support teams will all be able to provide insight into what the collected data means for your organization.
The idea is to build context around the on-paper data you’ve collected. This will allow you to create a more holistic view of your customers, and of their overall experiences with your brand.
It will also make the data you collect more valuable, as well. While your sales team may provide insight on their end, and your support team may provide insight on theirs, these insights when combined can potentially lead to the “aha moments” that will allow you to truly serve your customers to the best of your ability.
Again, technology can aid the interpretation process to make things easier on your team.
For example, sentiment analysis tools can help discern meaning from large chunks of qualitative data.
Similarly, predictive analytics can point your team toward actionable conclusions based on the data collected.
For our purposes, these tools can supplement your team’s understanding of your customers — allowing them to create powerful knowledge assets, in turn.
Confirm Your Interpretations With Your Customers
At this point, you’ll have:
- Collected a ton of data on and from your customers
- Assessed this data using your team’s knowledge and expertise
- Used AI-powered technology to further your understanding of this data
Still, you’ll want to touch base with your customers to ensure the conclusions you’ve drawn match their needs and expectations.
In some cases, you may simply need to reach out to those who participated in a survey, focus group, or other voluntary engagement to confirm or expand on your findings. Basically, you’ll want to know if there’s anything they want to add, or if they wish to clarify their original statements or responses based on your interpretation.
In other cases, your team will need to solicit more information from your customers to confirm their findings in the first place. For example, though a high rate of cart abandonment may point to a problem with your checkout process, you’d still want to identify the specific issues your customers had that caused them to drop off at this moment.
Again, a quick survey or questionnaire can help you gather the insight needed here.
In addition to confirming your customers’ feedback and intentions, you can also use these engagements to gather Voice of the Customer data. VoC data needs no interpretation — and can simply be used as-is to supplement the customer knowledge assets you’ll create.
Document the Customer Knowledge in Your Knowledge Base
The next step is to actually document the knowledge you’ve gleaned from your customers into a knowledge base.
The entire point of all this is to create knowledge assets to be used for practical purposes. If your knowledge assets don’t allow your team to be more productive in some way, you might as well not create them at all.
That said, it’s important to follow best practices when documenting your customer knowledge.
Above all else, make the value of your customer knowledge clear. A given knowledge asset should clearly communicate:
- The audience segment in focus
- The topic or area of the customer experience being covered
- The team (or teams) who will most benefit from the information in question
The knowledge presented should be as clear and concise as possible. This way, team members can quickly find the info they’re looking for — and can focus on actually using it to make the necessary improvements.
On that same token, you should also supplement your text-based knowledge assets with multimedia content whenever appropriate. This is especially true for sharing tacit knowledge, which is actually communicated more effectively via how-to videos, audible customer interviews, and other such content.
It’s also important to organize your customer knowledge assets in a logical and helpful manner. This not only makes it easier for your teams to find the information they need — but also allows them to dive deeper into certain topics to gain even more insight into their customers.
Finally, be sure to keep your customer knowledge assets up to date as time goes on. Really, your knowledge assets should never be set in stone — but should instead be seen as living documents that will evolve as you learn more about your target audience.
Put Your New Customer Knowledge to Practical Use
As author and motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously advised:
“Don’t let your learning lead to knowledge. Let your learning lead to action.”
Again, the point of customer knowledge management is to actually use what you’ve learned to better serve your customers — and to grow your business. If you don’t take action based on what you know about your customers, you’ve essentially wasted your time.
Now, the action you take at a specific moment will depend on the knowledge you’ve collected. As mentioned earlier, your goal might be to:
- Create more informative content
- Streamline your path to purchase
- Improve your products, your pricing, or your promotional offers
- Deliver proactive customer service and more helpful customer support
- Provide a more immersive overall experience to your customers
...the list goes on.
In any case, it’s vital that you have a strategic and systematic process in place for putting your new customer knowledge into practice. By creating such standard operating procedures, you’ll ensure your team gets maximum use out of every piece of customer knowledge you possess.
As you put your new knowledge to practical use, you’ll then gain a better understanding of what more you need to know. In turn, you can focus on uncovering even more knowledge on your customers — which can then be used to deliver even more value to them in the future.
This all but guarantees that your company continues to be the go-to brand in your industry for a long time to come.
Customer Knowledge Management: Your Key to Business Growth
There’s simply no way you can deliver value to your customers if you don’t know and understand them.
And having a general, surface-level knowledge of your customers isn’t enough to set you apart from your competition. To truly stand out from the crowd, you need to dive deep into your customers’ personalities, goals, desires, and expectations — and use what you find to deliver an experience your customers can’t find anywhere else.
Helpjuice's knowledge base solution can help you document valuable information from your audience to supercharge your customer knowledge management efforts. Whether engaging brand new leads or long-time customers, your knowledge base will help you find what you need to know to better serve your target audience.
Ready to get started? Schedule a demo today!